Q: From 26 year old US military man: I don’t know whether to stay with my wife or divorce. My wife and I have been married over 1.5 years and together just under 3. I recently re-met an old friend from high school and hadn’t seen this person in 8 years. We found out that we both liked each other in High School and that both of us still have feelings for the other. We have so much in common on click so well. My wife and I seem to fight a bit and I’m wondering if I could be happier with the other woman. My wife and I had a child together in April and she brought 2 children to the marriage from a previous. I don’t know if I will be happy if I’m not with the woman that I’m nuts about. She is all that I think about but I also try to think about what is best for the children. I’m so torn about whether to stay with my wife or start a new life with my friend.
A: In the midst of your confusion, you are at the core an honorable man. You’re at least thinking about the effect on the kids if you were to leave. This is not the time to make such an important decision. You and your wife are under enormous stress. You are in the midst of establishing a stepfamily. You are dealing with the chaos that a new baby brings to any young couple. And you are in the military at a time when the job is risky and often unappreciated. Of course you and your wife are fighting a bit. She’s sensitive to the fact that you aren’t all there. Of course an uncomplicated old love looks great to you. That woman’s attention and care is totally on you That doesn’t mean it’s right. It only means that you are tired, maybe feeling a little neglected, and weren’t prepared for what making a family so quickly really means.
You’re not alone. Most young couples aren’t prepared for the upheaval that a new baby brings. The baby’s needs take priority. In your case, I would guess that the two older kids have become more demanding too. That puts you fourth in line for your wife’s attention. Presumably, being an adult, you can put your own needs aside for awhile until things settle down again. Presumably, you can be the man of the house that the whole family desperately needs right now to help get it settled down.
The honorable thing to do is to step up and turn your attention to your wife and your children. Partner with your wife to spread out the children’s needs between you. Give your overworked and probably hormonally challenged wife extra love and care. Stop the conversations with the old flame. Chances are your wife will relax and you will start to feel the satisfaction that comes with doing a difficult job well. Chances are that if you start giving more love and attention to your family, you’ll start getting more in return. (P.S. Things often become a bit easier once the baby is 3 months old.)
I wish you well.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 15 Jun 2008
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2008). I don’t know whether to stay or go. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 12, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/06/15/i-dont-know-whether-to-stay-or-go/